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Sunday, May 23, 2010

No. No. No.

As someone who lived in Pakistan for 10 years, from 1998-2008, it pains me to see that nation acting in breathtakingly stupid ways that only serve to reinforce every negative image that my own country, the US, already has about it. The people of Pakistan deserve much, much better. The latest way in which their country is failing them is by the recent imposition of a ban on Internet sites such as Facebook, Youtube, and many others. Ostensibly this is because of insults to the prophet Mohommad, but really, it's an attempt to control information and people's access to it.

I have a message for the government of Pakistan: Hey guys, this attempt will fail. It always does. It may work for a while, but sooner or later, people will find a way to learn what you don't want them to know, and then, you know what? Your credibility will be shot. (Not that you have a great deal to begin with, but that's a conversation for another day.)

Here's an excellent blog posting by someone named Sabeen, a Karachi native, blogger and more eloquent human being than I am on this issue:

And some more mainstream press coverage of the issue:

Until now, Pakistan's Internet policy, and actually its media policy in general, has been fairly liberal (many international TV channels available, Fox News and al-Jazeera among them, plus many Indian channels that were banned for a short time, then reinstated, international music channels and so on), so this giant step backward into a grasping attempt at totalitarian-style idea control is higely disappointing. Hey guys, if you don't like what people are saying about the prophet... don't listen. Or, have a conversation in which you explain your point of view. Or, get mad and insult them back. Whatever. But you can't close your eyes and stop up your ears and pretend the rest of the world doesn't exist.

On second thought--yeah, you can do that. Just don't presume to force everyone else to do the same thing.

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